Enchanted Camelot Prototypes

In 1991, toy maker Kenner was acquired by fellow toy company Hasbro, best known today for their Transformers, My Little Pony, and Jem and the Holograms Toys.

And in 1994-1995, Kenner-Hasbro was hard at work on a new line of magical action dolls under the working title “Enchanted Camelot.” Other aliases included “Enchated Jewel Riders” and “Princess Guinevere and her Jewel Adventures.”

In this version of the story, Princess Guinevere, Melody (Tamara), Alexandra (Fallon), and Shawn (Drake) ride the Wild Magic with their friends Amber (Sunstar), Cleo, Samantha (Sugar), Rusty (Spike), Moonglow (Moondance), and Thunder. You can, of course, read the Enchanted Camelot script for the episode that became Jewel Quest here on the site.

Over the last several years, pre-production toy concepts have gone up for auction on Ebay, and several have sold for hundreds of dollars.

From Greg Autore:

These are the very first and often very rough models, made for a new project.  This type of models was used at Kenner and occasionally with other companies to get a quick read from consumers.  They were put into a test with several other similar toys and reviewed with kids.  Sometimes, they are reviewed by moms also – if the product is very young. Occasionally, as with GI Joe, they are reviewed by collectors.  These models are usually very rough “kitbash” models created to give the basic look/feel of the line but made with existing parts. With the Enchanted Camelot models, they were mostly made from the Mattel Disney Musical Princesses.  This is very ironic as I was the lead designer on those dolls at Mattel before I left.

I hand made most of these models. There was some painting done by the painting department.  My goal was to create a new look using metallics and sparkly sheer fabric to get a look of fashion with action. The armor was made by creating simple vacuform shapes, then adding a layer colored mylar with the clear plastic to melt onto that shape.

After a property or concept worked well in testing, then it was time to really design the product.  We need to show the line to management with the full product line including price points and features.  Many people achieve this entirely with drawings.  In my experience, I have found that models sell concepts at least twice as well, so I try to make at least one functioning model per line segment.

I used the Disney Musical Princesses again and added a light pipe feature that was one my favorites from the Vintage GI Joe figure “Mike Power Atomic Man” who had a similar feature. Since this was shown to Hasbro upper management, I even brought in that figure from my collection to show them. I made that model of the blinking power jewel work so well that most people thought it had created it with an LED light. Then they were all bent out of shape when I opened it showed them that is was all just one more piece of plastic.

Rough models were also made for the deluxe dolls that had full soft goods dresses on them. I designed the dressed and most were made by the soft goods engineers and Kenner.

Action Doll Prototypes

Deluxe Doll Prototypes

Carriage Prototypes

Castle Prototypes

From Greg Autore: “The castle playset shown to consumers in the original testing. Very cool model and design (even if I hand made most of it). It was more like a castle keep but expanded up and out to make a good backdrop for play. But the castle eventually designed for the show did not match it all. I know for a fact that it was destroyed along with many things just before I left. (People starting digging through the Kenner garbage cans looking for Star Wars discarded samples so a grinder was put in place to destroy all trash).”

Pavilion Prototypes

From Greg Autore: “There was one accessory that was made into a real presentation model – the Pavillion Camp Set. It was in cost and ready to turn on before the line was cancelled. It was a medieval tent for when they were on the road. It had hammocks for two girls, food trays to snap on and even a place for the horses to eat. It also came with a jewels chest.”

There was also a concept (no photos remain, sadly) for an Enchanted Forest playset, what Greg describes as a “very basic clamshell sculpted magical trees that open up with jewels to add that would work like a combination of light-pipes (in basic Gwen figures) and light brite.   Nothing exists from it that I know of. The intern designer left and is now not even working in design any more. It was only a foam core model.”

Animal Prototypes

animals

Enchanted Camelot Kitbash Samples

[The above] image shows the original set of animals that were part of the first concept testing from “Enchanted Camelot” which became the “Princess Gwenevere and Jewel Riders” animated tv series.

Notes saved from the Ebay Auction stated:

Princess Gwenevere Horse Sun Star prototype [1995] Kenner

…So where are the wings? you are probably asking? Originally Sun Star did not have wings and was just a unicorn. Various models are made at different times of the project. The yellow model was the very first concept model when it was tested with children. It was made from an existing horse and modified. The horn used to light up but batteries have probably corroded the system. The pink model was the first color test seeing if it would look good as a clear horse with opaque paint. It was eventually decided that giving Fallon a horse was not magical enough so Fallon’s horse became a unicorn and Gwen’s horse became a flying unicorn.

One of the images shows the original set of animals that were part of the first concept testing from “Enchanted Camelot” which became the “Princess Gwenevere and Jewel Riders” animated tv series.

These models are what is called “kit bash”. It is a rough model usually formed from other existing pieces to test the concept.”

 

 

Princess Gwenevere Fallon’s Lion prototype [1995] Kenner

…So, about now you are thinking “What Lion?” Fallon rides a blue unicorn!” Well, orginally she did not. Each of the characters had a different animal to ride. But after early concept testing it was decided to go with the unicorn for the girls and make Gwen’s unicorn into a pegasus since girls like horses more.

One of the images shows the original set of animals that were part of the first conept testing from “Enchanted Camelot” which became the “Princess Gwenevere and Jewel Riders” animated tv series.

This model is what is called “kit bash”.   It is a rough model usually formed from other existing peices to test the concept.

This is a purple lion in keeping with Fallon’s color scheme in the show. It also has her moonstone shapes on the riding gear.

Note that not all of the models in the group shot still exist. The ones that do will show up in a later auction.

This auction is only for the lion.

 

The seller’s words regarding Shawn (Drake)’s wolf, Thunder:

Princess Gwenevere Drake’s wolf prototype [1995] Kenner

Various models are made at different times of the project. The wolf that Drake rides was one of the very first concept model when it was tested with children. It was made from an existing toy and modified with wax, Sculpy and fur. The head is an original wax sculpting and the ear tips have broken off.

The character did not change much from this original look – but this never made it into production.

One of the images shows the original set of animals that were part of the first concept testing from “Enchanted Camelot” which became the “Princess Gwenevere and Jewel Riders” animated tv series. The Wolf is one of those animals.

These models are what is called “kit bash”. It is a rough model usually formed from other existing pieces to test the concept.

 

This is a model of the small green dragon which always accompanied Tamara on her adventures. It is a concept model showing how the character and its feature would work. The play pattern on this is to play with wings that open for day adventures, then lay it on its back so its eyes would close and the wings wrap around it to pretend to sleep. There was a feature in its necklace jewel that when bright and dark with gravity – but it does not seem to be working any more.

The figure is about 3 inches tall. It never made it into production. It is made of plastic, nylon hair and Sculpy.

Princess Gwenevere Tamara’s Dragon Friend prototype [1995] Kenner

 

 

Princess Gwenevere test models wolf & cat with Market research photo

Kenner used to do early tests with consumers to determine which concepts appeal to consumers. The consumers would be shows sets of photos from different product concepts and then they would be asked to choose which they would prefer. This photo showed the set of animals that would be available for what was called at that time “Enchanted Camelot.”

These types of models are created very quickly and rough. These two figures were existing product on the market that were repainted to look close to how the final product would eventually look.

 

 

 

Treasure Rocks

From Greg Autore, Art Director of Jewel Riders:

Jewel Rocks are a line of “make and play” toys where a child could clean/discover jewels inside of rocks.  The jewels were nicely shaped and made of clear acrylic for excellent clarity. The covering was a type of sugar that dissolved away when put in the water revealing a precious jewel.  The line included beakers to fill with water, drop your rock in, then shake until the coating came off; just in case you did not want to wait the few hours for the transformation to take place.  Also included were plastic settings for the jewels to snap in so the child could assemble and wear new jewelry.

Sadly, the product did not sell through well and was discontinued.

The treasure rocks jewels were added to the Princess Gwenevere product as a promotional gimmick.  The jewel tooling existed in Hasbro’s tooling library and the cost of each jewel was small so the plan was to add a “hidden” jewel in each package.  They would be in semi-visible places like the comb/shield in the package.  The intent was to place the jewels in the package for just the original launch quantity (enough product to fill the shelves of all the retailers who ordered the product). It was hoped this would move the product quickly off the shelves triggering a reorder.

 

You can also see that Jewel Riders would have had a version of Treasure Rocks and Jewelry, but it sadly never made it to market.

Fashion Star Fillies

So many fans love those winsome equine companions of the Jewel Riders: the Unicorns! But what do Sunstar and friends and Fashion Star Fillies have in common? As a pre-existing Kenner toy (1988), Fashion Star Fillies provided the mold for the Gwen horses. Fashion Star Fillies was a 1980s fashion horse line from Kenner, with beautiful horses who wore fun eighties-era clothes. The subline “Sweet Sixteens” of Fashion Star Fillies were younger characters than the base line, and these horses are what were eventually used as the base molds for the Jewel Rider horses. The rump jewels, light-up jewel feature, and unicorn horns were added to the tooling to create the final unicorns.

 

From Greg Autore, Artistic Director of the show:

Tooling is one of the highest fixed costs to release a new product. Horse tooling is particularly expensive. Before creating new tooling, it was a non-written procedure to see if anything usable exists. The Fashion Star Fillies is a brand of horse toys created by Kenner before it was purchased by Hasbro. It was designed to target slightly older kids who were playing with Hasbro’s My Little Ponies toys.

The horse designs are a great balance of realism and grace. They were perfect. The only minor issue was their size was just a touch larger than correct for the figures.

The tooling was modified to have the added jewels on the rump, the unicorn horn, and the light pipe between the head and chest. We originally planned to add facets to the hooves to look more like jewels also, but that modification would have taken too long.

The revised tools were shot in k-resin plastic to give a great clear/tinted look on the legs. Then the rest of the horse had opaque spray painting of the horse’s true color and hide the inner attachments which would look clunky.  The intent of keeping the legs clear was 2-fold. 1) It would help the horses match the line. 2) the clear tint on the legs gave the sense that the horses were running on magic.

The revised tools were shot in k-resin plastic to give a great clear/tinted look on the legs. Then the rest of the horse had opaque spray painting of the horse’s true color and hide the inner attachments which would look clunky. The intent of keeping the legs clear was 2-fold. 1) It would help the horses match the line. 2) the clear tint on the legs gave the sense that the horses were running on magic.

Each horse design was carefully color designed to fit with its rider.

That’s it for the development of Enchanted Camelot and some of the early influences on Jewel Riders toys. To check out further development of the Jewel Riders toy line, check out the Development page for lots more information!